Primitive Science, Imperfect Librarian

Review in Issue 9-1 | Spring 1997

Primitive Science are clearly aspirants to Artaud’s dream – the creation of a total theatre. In Imperfect Librarian, based on a text by the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges, they combined a clever, simultaneously cerebral and sensual assault, on their audience. We entered into that kind of intimate world, where one can only be free within one’s head.

A lonely man lying face down, listening to his collection of 78s, is interrupted by a visitor who trades him an enormous glass green book (the ultimate book of books). We enter the world of the librarian. Later the emphasis moves onto the poet, the second Borges. Marc Von Henning’s meticulous direction brings out a precise physicality in Dan Jemmett. The piece is a superbly staged ritual from the drinking of the ink, the image of the blind Borges washing his spectacles in a bucket of water and then offering a glass of the same water to his guest – even the two librarians solemnly walking round in a kind of book-induced alternative reality.

But what was lacking was a full realisation of Artaud’s dreams. Borges has been described as a ‘magician who stirs some primal rage that lies deep in our unconscious’. It is this ‘primal urge’ which was missing from Imperfect Librarian. With less of the cerebral and more of the instinctive this could have been a real ritual of the subconscious and a really wild piece of theatre.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Nov 1996

This article in the magazine

Issue 9-1
p. 25